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Year In Review, 2017 – Top Hashtags

For a series of posts on the year 2017 in social media, in this post we will examine some popular hashtag phrases that dominated in 2017.

Hash tags are words or phrases, written by users, unpunctuated by spaces, to denote that their media is about a certain topic, category or theme. It is then considered metadata – that is, it is created by users, but understood by search engines to form part of code. So, when you as a user create or use a hash tag, you are actually writing a piece of computer code that tells search engines the  topic of your entry. The first Twitter hash tags were used in August 2007. By 2010, Twitter included “Trending Topics” on its front page, including hash tags there.

The Most Popular Hashtags on Instagram in 2017

According to WebHits.io, Instagram was the 7th largest social network in 2017, with 600 million users. They list some of the top hashtags on Instagram to be “#love”, “#photooftheday”, “follow4follow” and “#followme”. A short analysis of the above would suggest that optimistic pictures featuring love gain the most following. #PhotoOfTheDay suggests that users add another photo for each day, a common way to use Instagram, especially when one has followers already. #Follow4Follow hints at the importance of social reciprocity in gaining followers – the tag suggests that if you subscribe to the posts of the person using this tag, that they will ‘follow’ or subscribe to your photos as well. Finally, #FollowMe suggests that users are trying to attract attention or add more followers to their stream.

Hashtags for Social Justice

Some hash tags are a little more storied. The popularity of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on Facebook and other media suggest that participants are becoming politically involved in issues of social equality and in the importance of fighting racism and discrimination. Similarly, the hashtag #MeToo to raise awareness of feminist issues about the commonality of sexual assault struck a chord on social networks. What this means is that people are leveraging the popularity of social media to spread social justice memes. While some of the participants in these trends can fairly be criticised for ‘armchair activism’ or for promulgating a message and not protesting or actively changing society, it is true that a greater awareness of these messages, especially in younger generations, suggests that hashtag use and social media in general is not without a conscience, or entirely consumer-driven, which is a message that companies may do well to take note of.

 

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